Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published July 24th 2011
Say the words 'Chinese Restaurant' to most people and it immediately conjours up a vision of something decorated in red and gold, like the inside of an ornate, velvet-lined, mah jongg box.
The Mirimar in Glen Forrest isn't like that at all. It's decorated in calming light but muted tones of dove grey and it has a delightful, reassuring and relaxing effect - the decorations, obviously Oriental, are not overdone and the place has a simple charm verging on the austere. This departure from stereotype is to be found elsewhere as well, such as the menu.
We took a family party up the night we went. I forget the exact excuse we used - the anniversary of the abolition of the flat-bed printing press, possibly. We usually celebrate that important festival in style. We were seated with commendable promptness by one of the two waiters who were both most attentive throughout the night.
Let me say at once that we badly under-estimated the portion sizes. For four hungry adults we normally order five mains plus fried rice, which enables us to mix and match while not having to worry too much that there won't be enough left of one's own particular favourite. At our usual Chinese this would leave us feeling elegantly full and avoid the 'ten minutes later, you're hungry again' myth.
But we hadn't counted on two things - the generous portion sizes and just how damn good it was all going to taste.
We began, as we normally do, with a selection of entrees - spring rolls (made on the premises, evidently and absolute delicious), prawn toast and won ton. These delectable little bite-size mouthfuls were supremely fresh, obviously cooked while we waited and left us, as they ought, eager and hungry for the mains.
They came, staggered, over the next thirty minutes or so - a continual supply of hot, savoury, beautifully flavoured dishes. Chopsticks and bowls for the adept and confident; plates and forks for the trepidatious - the fried rice; king prawns with a honey and chilli sauce, crisp, very lightly battered and deep fried to perfection; a fish curry; and sweet and sour pork. It wa tasty, tender and the sauce light and delicious.
This is true of all the sauces at the Mirimar, none of that heavy stickiness so beloved of the commercial sauce makers. This was particularly notable in the beef satay. The sauce was miraculous and the beef fresh and tender. It's served over a chaffing dish so it won't get cold.
Another dish we tried was the garlic squid, a difficult dish to get right and disasterously rubbery if cooked too long or too quickly. The squid was perfection and the accompanying vegetables crisp and delicious, the sauce understated but excellent.
Sitting quietly beaming around the table like four well-packed casks you wouldn't have thought we wanted (certainly didn't need) a sweet - but the sight of a chocolate-sauced dish of ice-cream going to the next table persuaded us - as I have remarked elsewhere - I wasn't hungry, but fortunately I was greedy.
We finished, not before time, with a pot of sublime Chinese Tea, fragrant and refreshing.